ISTP Relationships – As Partners, Parents, Communication Style and Match

ISTP in Relationships

Watch the ISTP Relationships video above and tell us what you think in the video comments.


What is an ISTP? 

ISTP stands for:

  • Introverted
  • Sensing
  • Thinking
  • Perceiving


ISTPs are curious, individualistic, and impatient doers. They love to get things done, and enjoy problem-solving. They are not big communicators, instead being a perfect example of “actions speak louder than words”. They’re more interested in showing love through acts of service than verbal affection.  

As introverts, they enjoy time alone and prefer a smaller circle of friends. Their sensing aspect means they focus on facts and details. They are thinkers who value logic above emotion, and perceivers who are flexible and interested in learning new things. 


ISTP common traits: 

  • Direct in communication
  • Problem-solvers
  • Keep emotions guarded
  • Move from one thing to the next 
  • Struggle with commitment and structure
  • Realistic and sincere (can seem pessimistic)
  • Changes their mind frequently


Along with their four-letter description, each MBTI type has a ‘function stack’, which goes into more detail about how their specific personality works. The ISTP function stack is Ti-Si-Ni-Fe. 


Introverted Thinking (Ti), the ISTP’s dominant function, is all about logic, knowledge and problem-solving. They think things through slowly and in great detail. This makes the ISTP intelligent and self-sufficient, able to resolve or avoid issues with ease. Ti loves to learn by taking things apart and putting them back together again. However, this function can become an issue if the ISTP is overly logical and judgemental, and becomes close-minded. Healthy Ti is adaptable to new information and helps the ISTP become an expert in their field. 


Extroverted Sensing (Se), the ISTP’s auxiliary function, is the source of their curiosity. Se is happy to try things in unorthodox ways or break rules just to see what the result will be. Se loves freedom and takes risks. Unlike perfectionistic or risk-averse types, ISTPs just want to learn, and they live in the present. This can occasionally get them into trouble (and lead to selfishness or impulsivity in immature ISTPs), but more often leads to success. 


Introverted Intuition (Ni), the ISTP’s tertiary function, takes the information Se discovers and organises it. Ni is where solutions to problems are found, within the ISTPs inner-library of stored information. Ni connects this information and uses it to make new discoveries, make future predictions and solve problems – sometimes subconsciously. Often an ISTP will just know something, or have a ready-made solution to a new problem, without being able to explain why. 

Extroverted Feeling (Fe), the ISTP’s inferior function, is where empathy is involved. Since Fe is their weakest function, they may not even notice it working, but it is where their problem-solving becomes concerned with helping others. Healthy Fe is good at understanding emotions, whereas immature Fe can get lost when it comes to dealing with emotions. 

So, now you know what an ISTP is, how does this relate to their relationships?


ISTP Relationships: Communication Style

When an ISTP communicates, they are direct and observational. Because they tend to have many hobbies and interests, they can have many acquaintances and find it easy to make friends. However, as introverts, they still keep their close friends circle small. 


They struggle with concepts that are too emotional or abstract, and instead prefer to think about theories and facts. ISTPs are even known to shut out emotions entirely and be completely objective – this aids in their learning and problem-solving, but can make them unempathetic. This is an issue in arguments, when they may forget to take someone’s emotions into account and only focus on winning with logic. 


As already mentioned, ISTPs want freedom, and don’t like commitment. They bounce between things quickly, living in the present and always searching for more. And they’re risk-takers, with little concern for future consequences. This may make it difficult to form a relationship with a flighty ISTP – especially if they aren’t empathetic. 


ISTPs aren’t talkers. They don’t mind conversation about theories and ideas, but only if it leads somewhere practical. They aren’t interested in theorising or chatting – they’re interested in doing, and learning by doing. This means they’ll talk about problems that can be solved now, and will especially tire of the abstract. 


ISTPs don’t like being told what to do, or more specifically, how to do something. Leaving them with a problem they can solve on their own is the way to make an ISTP happy. They prefer friends who are also sensors; specifically people who are observant and hands-on. They like flexible relationships, and they find competition fun. If you can keep an ISTP entertained and not feeling as if they’re being smothered, you’ll have a great friend. 


When bad things happen, the ISTP – a great problem solver and less-emotional person – is the best type to have around. They’re realists, and can stay calm in situations that would make other types panic. They will work through the problem logically, and make sure that idealism and emotions don’t cloud judgement. 

ISTPs show love by doing – if they care about you, they will take a hands-on approach in solving your problems. 


ISTP Dating and Compatibility

The ISTP in a romantic relationship is independent and gets things done. They enjoy helping and showing their partner love by problem-solving or fixing things. They are usually more interested in physical intimacy than emotional intimacy. 

ISTPs don’t want to feel too tied down in a relationship, and are prone to panicking about commitment. A compatible partner also lives in the moment and isn’t scared of the  ISTP’s flightiness, but embraces it. 

They like when their partner has similar interests and is willing to try new things with them. Being adventurous and having fun are important aspects to the relationship. This is because ISTPs don’t like to sit in one issue or emotion for long – they want to get onto the next exciting thing. 

ISTPs will easily and happy fix their partner’s physical problems, but can become confused or unwilling to fix emotional problems. If there isn’t a logical solution to an issue in the relationship, the ISTP can become flighty.

Because the ISTP shows affection with actions rather than words, their partner must learn to look for these positive actions and not always need things to be told to them directly. They also show love through physical affection, i.e. hugs, intimacy, massages, etc. 


ISTP Top Romantic Matches

All Myers-Briggs types can establish a good romantic relationship with maturity and good communication, but some types are more likely to be drawn to each other based on compatible traits. 


Since the ISTP is less likely to show deep emotions or have long conversations, they will struggle in relationships with types who value such things. They also dislike commitment, so dating a type that wants a devoted, lifelong partner may cause tension. 


The best match for the ISTP is known to be the ESTJ or ENTJ, because these types have an Extroverted thinking dominant function that balances the ISTP’s introverted thinking dominant function. These types will appreciate the ISTP’s preference of action over words.


Some other good matches:

  • ENFJ – both good at tackling problems and can make a great team
  • ISTP – similarity will allow for an ‘easier’ relationship, but could eventually bore both ISTPs
  • ESTP – both love to live in the moment


ISTJ Relationships: Parents & Children

As with everything, ISTP parents prefer action. They will bond with their children over activities, teaching and learning together, or fixing things together. These moments are more important to an ISTP parent than showing more obvious affection or having long talks. 

Because they struggle being tied down or being told what to do, an ISTP parent may be flighty and forget their responsibility sometimes. ISTPs as parents can risk being unreliable, or not emotionally connecting with their children, which can hurt the family. 

They let their children have their independence and like to see them being active and trying lots of hobbies. They don’t like to see their child inside too much, spending lots of time on their phones or watching movies. They want their child outdoors, having experiences and learning kinesthetically, using all their senses to make sense of the world.

Conversely, as children, ISTPs are independent, adventurous and keen to learn. They like to pull things apart to see how they work. They like to bond with their parents through quality time and doing activities together. Since actions speak louder than words for this type, ISTPs prefer to be shown they’re loved by their parents, rather than told. 


Recommended Books

See our list of books for the ISTP Personality Type that can help you with relationships and other aspects of life.


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